Return of the prodigal

Hello, Sorry I've been somewhat away recently, busy busy busy and all that. Anyway, I'm back now. Hello again.

I have been listening to LOTS of music from the 60's recently which may not surprise you at all, but it's something I hadn't been doing that much if I'm honest, I kind of took it all for granted. Having spent the first 20 something years of my life listening to little else I wandered away from it, exploring other stuff, knowing it was always there for when I would return. That's not to say I didn't listen to ANY music from that particular decade in this time, I doubt a whole month would have gone by at any point without me having at least listened to Fairport Convention's eponymous debut or The Incredible String Band's "5,000 Spirits or Layers of the Onion". But 60's music in general, had slipped away from me, and coming back to it now has once again bought about a musical revelation in me.

People always talk about musical eras in decades, and the 60's is, in my humble opinion, probably the best decade for music, from the development of styles and genre to cultural and political impact, it just exploded into the world in a beautiful, cacophonous, kaleidoscopic explosion of freedom and expression. Anyway, I'm sure I don't need to tell you this, it is already well documented.

But what then? if the 60's is the big decade, which decade is next in line of greatness? The 50's? There is no doubt that the 60's couldn't have been what it was had the seed not been sewn in the preceding decade with Rock & Roll. The 70's perhaps? There were certainly some highs but ultimately it became a dark hideous comedown from the party of the decade before. I'm sure if you were to ask some teens on the streets of shorditch they would enthusiastically tell you that "it's all about the 80's, innit?!", no it's not. The 80's were RUBBISH! (obviously there was some good stuff, but I'm sure that most of these kids have never heard it) The 90's then? ahhh, the 90's. beloved decade of my teens, Britpop, The emergence of elctronic "Dance" music in it's myriad form into the global awareness, Belle & Sebastian, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Pavement, Nirvana, Oasis etc...yeah, well there is no doubt that the 90's holds great import in all our hearts for one reason or another, However, no, it still falls short of that greatness that would place it up there next to the 60's, mainly it is weighed down by the fact that it tried so hard to be the 60's. If you only aim to be as good as something, you will only ever live in it's shadow.

So by now you've probably guessed which decade I'm talking about, and you may be reading in disbelief, although I know that some of you will be wondering why it's taken me this long to figure it out.

The last 10 years (whatever the correct name for them are, 2000's? 00's? Noughties?), have been largely phenomenal and yet have slipped by with an understated whoosh, and I think that it is this grace, this humble acceptance and understanding of it's place in the world is what makes it so great. Well, that coupled with some of the best music ever made.

I remember the turn of the century and the couple of years beyond, everyone was left with a bitter taste in their mouth after the 90's didn't turn out to be the biggest decade in music EVER and for a while there was a feeling of despondency about the whole thing which eventually gave way to apathy. And, I suspect, as it was the decade without a name, the question of how this decade would stand out in musical history was not really asked, no one expected anything, no one baulked at the cross pollination of music which may have weakened the pedigree of a scene or whatever, in fact people started to embrace it, the more diverse the mix the more people enjoyed it, firstly just for the novelty value but eventually that gave way to something else, an understanding, a mutual respect for other genres that were perhaps shunned previously.
People in the last ten years have had more diverse taste in music than any time before  I'm sure and it's this attitude both in the creative half of the music world and in the listening half that has been the key to the decade's success.
That and the Technology, in the last ten years it has been easier than ever before for anyone with half an ounce of creative inclination to make some music and put it out there before the world. This is the best thing ever. It put your average joe in the driving seat, no longer relying on record company A&R men to make the right choices for us or to just accept whatever they deemed worthy, if there wasn't something out there that was exactly what you wanted to hear, you could now quite easily do it yourself thanks to much cheaper technology and the internet, the place where dreams come true, anything you could possibly need is there in plentiful supply, be it cheap instruments and other equipment for online shops or ebay, unaffordable studio grade software for free from torrents or just millions and millions of titbits of helpful information and advice on how to put it all together. And just as importantly a platform to put your wondrous creation on for the world to see.
This revolution did obviously not go unnoticed by the record companies who have picked up on some of these more popular internet phenomenons, bringing some brilliant acts to the mainstream. For all their bemoaning of the effect of the internet on the music industry, they have probably still made a pretty penny because of it, now they're just giving the public something they already know and want as opposed to taking a risk on something they think the public might want.

Overall the last ten years has been choc-full of awesomeness, all of it just for the sake of it's self, not trying to aspire to any greatness or historic importance and because of this has achieved that very thing. Funny how the world works, eh?

So here's to the last decade, the double oh's. This is the music of the 21st century. Let's hope it continues on this road for at least another 10 years.

Watch this space for my long promised pod-cast, which, if I'm honest has not materialised because I lacked a reason for it. Now I have it,  a retrospective of the music that has inspired this post, a year at a time. Hopefully the first episode will be here before the end of August.

This is Genius!

I'm a massive fan of Cover versions, and every now and again one comes along that make you sit up and applaude it!

RIP Mark Linkous

So I wanted to post about the tragic death of Mark Linkous, the man behind Sparklehorse, who sadly took his own life on 6th March. I'll be honest, I find myself lost for words.
The world is a slightly darker place now that his light has gone out.

This is one of my favorite Sparklehorse songs, 'Hundreds Of Sparrows'